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27 May 2020

Counter Stools, Hall Trees, and Water Meters

by Ronald Milligan, Hydrologic Engineer-at-Large


Dear Wife ordered some minor furniture online yesterday, while I was at The Dream House, watching the installation of floor tile.  When I returned to the Rental Home, she had a laundry list of the latest abominations in interior decoration and design.

I am not always treated to the exquisite online purchases of Dear Wife.  At times, the eyes of a man cannot understand the beauty of taupe.  Today she opened her recent purchase of Eye Glam cream shadow in Smokey Greige.  Sadly, she realized I’m a waste when it comes to appreciating the finer nuances of taupe.  The love just isn’t there when I look at the stuff.

It takes wood for the man love to show itself!
It has been many a year (a decade or so) since we’d checked out What’s New in The New Home of American Life. We used to tour the mall, but now that the mall is a Ghost Town, Dear Wife tools around the online stores, often with bizarre encounters. She finds it much easier to speedily exit those places than the maze of kiosks in Ye Olde Suburban Mall. The claustrophobe in her feels very safe! One click and you’re outta there!


These most recent offerings are IKEA mutations! Zillion-bytes of thumbnail images await your amazed eyes while you take a rest from work and sit on the sofa, scanning screen after screen after screen of alarming additions to Your Home. And Dear Wife has taken an extended break-from-work, an entire week of in-the-house vacation. She nonetheless claims that, for her, resting only insures even more work later, after the Rejuvenation from the Forced Rest — or even during, which is how “we” get these surges of essays and dramatic readings!


For starters among the Indoor/Outdoor Worlds of Merchandise, there is the Mud Room.

The Mud Room, evidently, is the latest nerve center of the Home! Once a place to take off your dirty jacket or shirt, dump your mud-soaked boots, and try to become hygienically presentable before entering the more pristine rooms of the House (WASH YOUR HANDS!), the Mud Room is now a world unto itself.


The Mud Room has gone well beyond simple storage of gallons of hand-sanitizer and disinfectant and 300 rolls of Charmin. There are now:


Tables, shelves, storage units, benches with shelves, tables with storage units, shelves with tables — the possibilities are endless.

Dear Wife limited her purchase to 2 wooden benches, one for the Mud Room, and one for the Main Entryway. These two benches replace the ONE from Allwood Furniture in Roseville, CA — Made in the USA of all wood, circa 1996. We still own that alder-wood bench, and we plan to use it somewhere — but obviously such a woebegone ware just won’t do for a brand-new Mud Room. It’s been everywhere, in just about every room of the past 2 houses we owned.


Those ten plus years of putting-on-shoes-service out in the Breezeway of the Peach House really took a toll on it. Obviously, this mud-room heirloom has too much mud and patina on it! Dear Wife stenciled the top rail at some point in time, and the pattern has beautifully faded, adding even more provenance to the piece. If we wait long enough, and the weathered cracks do not crumble the thing into disintegration, it might be worth a fortune!

Then there are the Counter Stools:


Assorted sizes and styles, and made of exotic materials. What used to start out as a simple wooden stool has become an infinite array of places to park your rear end. And the “price point” has gone through the roof.


We wanted counter-height, so the elaborate expansion of the humble stool was somewhat minimized. For bar stools, the leather upon which you sit approaches the masculine elegance of James Dean sidling up in a biker bar in Nevada, on his way to Tortilla Flat!

Dear Wife found, on Close-out (which always makes her smile), a swivel counter stool. I am sure she will test-drive the 360 degrees to see if the seat has the adequate amount of swivel!


Whatever you do, do not type STOOLS in the search engine. During this time of infinite social distancing, the results are scary!


In the Peach House, we owned a lovely entryway coat rack with a modest shelf above it and an attached and beveled mirror, another find at Allwood Furniture. Dear Wife used to troll the place, looking for the latest item that the owner had over-invested in purchasing for sale, and then wait for the mark-down, not unlike a predatory purchaser, a shark! In this manner, “we” came to own 2 hutches and a solid (heavy) quarter-sawn oak Craftsman coffee table that Dear Wife purchased with some contract-editing money. She felt purely victorious in that purchase!

We decided to leave that gorgeous but heavy piece of wood & beveled mirror anchored to the wall in the non-existent entryway (it was the entrance corner of the parlor that Dear Wife marked out as a Petit, very petit, Foyer) — mostly because the wall into which the coat rack had been bolted would have needed repair after removing the elegant but massive thing.


To the shocked horror of Dear Wife, the simple, functional but aesthetically-pleasing entryway coat rack with shelf has been replaced by:

The Hall Tree!


This big hulking mass of cheap wood and metal pretends to be Coat Rack/Shoe-Shelf-With Hooks and Storage Unit, all-in-one. It’s the Frankenstein monster of storage elements and welcoming hands. The chic gorilla of furniture in the entryway. Even I lost my appetite for an hour or so!

Dear Wife pulled the trigger (electronically speaking) on an austere coat rack, not surprisingly called Legrand (The big). I already see some skilsaw action in my life to re-create the Allwood Entryway Masterpiece she left behind.

The Pet Section of this online Site of Inspiring Spaces is out of control! The Gabby Pet Perch will not be entering the Online Cart anytime soon. It is much too limited for our Snowshoe Cat who loves to climb!


Proceeding to more earthy matters, I, Hydrologic Engineer, get to oversee the digging of the trench for the water meter today. It’s a simple job of tearing through some asphalt and roadbed, but, if you listen to the local Water District, the work will take on the proportions of re-diverting Interstate 80.


Last week, 800 feet of buried water line had to be re-located, a mere 12 inches (that would be 1 foot), to maintain proper social distancing from the buried power line!


This phase of the project has to be re-done because the sub-contractor did not listen to the man from PG&E. And as Dear Wife has oft said, “You must listen to PG&E. They are so big now, they’re all alone, at the top, and have been sued nearly out of existence.”  You are an easy target up there alone!


As Reddy Kilowatt said: DON’T PUT THE WATER LINE IN THE SAME TRENCH AS THE ELECTRICAL LINE.


The torrential thunderstorms and rain last week proved that Mr. Subcontractor did not listen!!

Dear Wife was very busy that day, at the Rental Home, with her translation of THE DAWN. The power did indeed go out for about half an hour. It was an unplanned blackout, during which time some lightning sparked the metal exterior of the window in her workroom. She said it gave new meaning to “all-electric house”.


Life is always an adventure, but there are some days when it is more of an adventure than others!